The Spanish Civil Guard has seized nearly 600 pets that had been introduced into the country illegally mostly from Slovakia.
The operation called ‘ARGOS’ saw the inspection of 21,340 pets in 2,208 establishments that resulted in 1,309 charges and the arrest of 16 people.
The charges include the illegal transfer and sale of animals and the falsification of passports, certificates and veterinary tests and paperwork.
The Service for the Protection of Nature of the Civil Guard (SEPRONA) started the operation in December in an effort to stop the trafficking of pets from Eastern Europe into Spain.
The animals are often stolen or come from horrible abusive puppy mills and are smuggled into Spain under false paperwork to be sold quickly to pet stores et al.
“Since the beginning of December we have been carrying out numerous activities, inspections and interventions that aim to protect consumers from this type of fraud,” stated SEPRONA on their website.
“The organized crime networks operating in this field know the consumer is ignorant of the procedures and requirements to acquire a pet. These organizations appear to have an established distribution network throughout the country, taking advantage of existing points of sale.
“The aim of the Civil Guard is to ensure that the citizen who wants to take on the responsibility of welcoming a pet into their home receives the animal sure that they were not the subject of fraud, that the pet meets the expectations that have been promised, that it belongs to the race or species they wanted to buy and that this pet has a legal origin.
“These inspections are also trying to determine if pets are sold with the correct accompanying documentation, if the age and health status are consistent and good and if you are getting a pet that has not been taken from its legal owner.
“The actions carried out by the Guardia Civil have determined that the transfer of pets occurs by land, sea and air. Our country is receiving pets from other countries, especially Slovakia. Often pets then depart from Spain to other EU countries such as Germany and Italy, so we also work to protect consumers from other countries.”